In case you missed it, you can read this post to see what this series is all about.
When it’s clean and organized, the fridge can hold a wealth of great food. But let it get out of control and it can become a source of food waste and chaos. How many times have you asked yourself, “Where is that (food item)? I know it’s in here somewhere?” Or been digging in the fridge for something to eat and find some cheese that’s expired. That’s when you know you have to get the fridge under control….when cheese expires! It tends to have a very long shelf-life so when you have to throw some away, it’s a sign to take everything out and do a big cleaning on the whole fridge!
I get very frustrated when I have to throw food away. Not only is it wasteful but now that I buy more food from farmers, I have an emotional attachment to the food and connect all the hard work that farmer has put into growing that item. While I try to keep my fridge in order sometimes it gets out of hand. I often think that there’s some black hole in my fridge where food disappears and then reappears only after it’s expired.
Here are a few ways I’ve brainstormed to keep my fridge/freezer in order:
1) First, start by taking everything out of the fridge, discard any expired items and then cleaning the fridge. This includes vacuuming behind it, underneath it and on both sides where things tend to clutter. This will start me off with a “clean slate.”
2) Designate a “fridge clean-up night” where a quick version of Step #1 is done. I recommend it being either the day before garbage day or the day before you do your weekly grocery shopping. This will also help you find meals that need to be eaten and items you may need to add to your grocery list.
3) Invest in stacking containers for the fridge shelves to help maximize space.
4) Get organized by:
a) Separate area for leftovers.
b) Separate area for kid’s snacks so they can easily find healthy choices.
c) Separate are for “use first” items for things that are almost expired and need to be used/eaten that week.
d) Keep a 13×9 pan on one shelf of the fridge for defrosting meat. This will stay in there after it’s washed each time so meals/meats can easily be defrosted.
5) Put limits on food/drinks. We tend to buy too big of a variety for drinks and should limit them to just a few to maximize space.
6) Always check the fridge before making the weekly meal plan so I can work items into the meal list so they don’t go to waste.
7) Have a sheet on the fridge for items that will expire quickly so I can be sure to remember to use them. This refers mostly to the produce items that can be for forgotten in the crisper drawers.
8) Try to keep healthy food options to the front of the fridge and unhealthier choices to the back. Out of sight, out of mind.
9) Keep track of foods that get thrown away and ask:
a) Was it due to an impulse buy?
b) Was it bought too close to the expired date – or worse, even expired when purchased! Always check dates!
c) Was there a way to have worked it into the meal plan that week?
d) Is this an item that continually gets thrown away – as in don’t buy it any more or find a better storage solution.
1) Check the freezer every few weeks or monthly and watch for any items that are getting close to the “best by” date for freezer items and make sure no items are getting freezer burn.
2) Invest in freezer containers. I’ve actually done this and it seems to help. I just need to get them labeled to make it easier. You can see my freezer in my stockpiling pics. I’ve been using those containers for over 9 months now and they have been working out well.
3) Keep like items together in the freezer. It makes it easier to streamline when searching for something and/or when making the weekly meal plan.
4) Make sure to keep the freezer from getting overfilled where it can’t circulate properly or items are getting lost and not used.
5) Keep all freezer cooking meals together so they won’t go to waste.
6) Inventory freezer items regularly so items that have been in there awhile can be used and not wasted.
These are just a few of the ways I’ve brainstormed to keep the fridge/freezer organized. Do you have any other ideas?
Stay tuned for another day of brainstorming tomorrow on another “stresser.”